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Exercise helps regulate body clock among elderly

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Regular exercise can strengthen the body's internal clock and help it stay synchronised as one grows older, a new study has claimed.

The body clock, found in all living beings, allows synchronisation of various bodily functions such as sleeping and eating to the 24-hour light-dark cycle of the day.

Based on a study conducted on mice by researchers at the University of Glasgow, it has now been concluded that regular exercise helps the older ones to synchronise their body clock better.

"Our study demonstrates that voluntary exercise has an impact on circadian rhythms and this has implications for the health of older people living with environmentally-induced circadian disruption. It is also indicates another health benefit to regular exercise," said Professor Stephany Biello of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology.

Disruption of the body clock can result in poor sleep patterns, weakened immune function and general cognitive decline.

As part of the experiment, the researchers reset the internal body clock of mice through advancing their light or dark cycle by eight hours.

They then observed how long it took for the mice's body clocks to synchronise again. It was found that young mice were able to quickly adapt to the new schedule whereas older mice struggled more.

However, when the older mice were given access to a running wheel, they showed stronger activity in the SCN and synchronised more quickly compared to those older mice without a wheel.

As organisms age, the circadian rhythms of the body clock often become less synchronised which can result in poor sleep patterns, weakened immune function and general cognitive decline.

"Ageing can impact the daily circadian rhythms leading to impaired sleep and activity cycles. Older adults show reduced amplitude of rhythms, manifested most obviously as disrupted sleep," said Biello.

Evidence suggests that animals that are more strongly synchronised live healthier and longer lives.

The research is published in the journal Age.

First Published: Sun, June 23 2013. 14:55 IST